Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round won Best International Feature Film at this year’s Oscars, and it’s already slated for an English-language remake by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way as a potential star vehicle for the A-lister. Considering the buzz around the film that Vinterberg both wrote and directed, which also earned him a Best Director nod, the Danish auteur is the clear choice for this installment of Filmmaker Spotlight.
This year’s Academy Awards was not the first time one of Vinterberg’s films garnered a nomination. He also wrote and directed The Hunt, which competed in the international feature category at the 2014 Oscars. But his breakout feature was the 1998 drama The Celebration, which reflected the radical filmmaking movement called Dogme ‘95 that Vinterberg co-founded with Lars von Trier. The goal of their approach was to strip filmmaking down to its most essential elements, and directors were even required to forgo their film credits.
Another Round isn’t a Dogme ‘95 feature, though, according to Vinterberg. He told CNN that while the film is too personal for that qualification, it still reflects some aspects of the movement, such as a handheld shooting style. “We let it live through its unevenness, and that has given us the same element of honesty,” he added.
The film reunites Vinterberg with his The Hunt star Mads Mikkelsen, who plays a middle-aged high school teacher named Martin. With his three close friends, who are also educators, Martin decides to test the pseudoscientific theory that people are born with blood alcohol levels too low for optimum performance. Their experiment involves steady alcohol consumption throughout the workday in order to maintain constant levels of inebriation.
When approached about the film, Mikkelsen liked the idea so much that he reportedly said yes before there was even a script to read. And he told The Hollywood Reporter that while they didn’t film while inebriated, the lead actors prepared for their roles by conducting their own test with Vinterberg on how different blood alcohol levels affected them.
The film may come with many moments of levity, but Vinterberg suffered a personal tragedy while making it. The auteur noted in his Oscar acceptance speech that “this is a film about letting go of control in life, as I lost control in my own.” Vinterberg’s 19-year-old daughter, Ida, was set to appear opposite Mikkelsen in the film as Martin’s daughter, but she died in an auto accident just four days into filming. During his emotional Oscar address, Vinterberg dedicated Another Round as a “monument” to her.
Vinterberg also recognized Mikkelsen’s contribution. “You gave us your finest, not just for the film, but for my daughter as well,” he added during the speech. “And I’ll never forget that.” Vinterberg told Entertainment Weekly that the actor had supported him as a friend throughout the filming of Another Round. “Even though I was his director on set, we’d switch, and he became the guy carrying me to my car or wiping up my tears,” the filmmaker recalled.
From an Oscar nomination for his first Mikkelsen-starring film to a win for his collaboration with the Danish actor he now calls a friend, it’s been a journey for Vinterberg to the spotlight. But as he accepted the honor of Best International Feature Film for Another Round, the filmmaker recognized the bittersweet moment with gratitude. “Ida, this is a miracle that just happened, and you’re a part of this miracle,” he concluded. “Maybe you’ve been pulling some strings somewhere – I don’t know – but this one is for you.”